Living the Lord’s Prayer
‘Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name’, we briskly intone. Then we may rattle off the rest of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ as if we were ticking off a list of memorised play parts.
Have you ever stopped to think about the Lord’s Prayer? One time I finally paid attention to what I was saying because I was tempted to do something I knew was wrong. Suddenly that verse, ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’ came alive for me. I prayed it from my heart. Let me share what I discovered about applying the Lord’s Prayer to my life.
Our Father, which art in heaven
When we trust in Jesus Christ as our Saviour, his Father becomes our Father. This omnipotent Father truly loves us. He watches over us and supplies all our needs.
When I interviewed Corrie ten Boom some years ago, I asked her where she got the money to travel. Her eyes twinkling, she said, ‘My Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. When I need money, I just ask him to sell a few for me!’
Hallowed be thy name
This means, ‘Let God be glorified’. Here Jesus taught the importance of worshipping and praising God. When I say this now, I send up further heartfelt thanks to God for all his blessings, the beautiful world he gave us, his love and his salvation.
Here Jesus teaches us that God’s name is holy, not be used lightly. Revering God’s name helps us keep the third commandment and be filled with joy. Whenever something depresses me, praising the Lord lifts me up.
Thy kingdom come
Here we ask for Christ’s return to earth as King. The Bible promises a special reward to those who look for his return (2 Timothy 4:8). When I was a teenager, I had a friend who believed that Jesus might come back at any time. When I suggested going to a certain place, she exclaimed, ‘Oh, no – what if Jesus came and found us there?’ I had never thought of that before.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
What a mess our world is in! People sin, fight, kill and terribly mistreat others. Millions on earth live in poverty, disease, and displacement. And is God’s will being done in our lives?
God’s will for mankind was a good life. He gave Adam the beautiful thorn-free Garden of Eden. But when Adam chose to disobey God, he plunged his world and that of his descendants into a thorny wilderness of sin, death and misery. When God’s Son returns, oppression, war, hunger and misery will disappear. As John said in Revelation 22:20, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus’.
Give us this day our daily bread
‘What does this mean?’ I wondered. I never went hungry! Then it hit me. We’re praying for all of us, for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Great storms and famines sweep over the earth and some of them may be starving. So I add, ‘Lord, give my brothers and sisters not only food to eat, but shelter, clothing, and all they need to live’. This prayer impels me to send money to missionaries who can help Christians in needy places.
Our Lord Jesus said, ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another’ (John 13:35).
Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us
Hardly a day goes by that we don’t mess up and do or say something wrong. Jesus reminds us of this fact here. So I have learned to say when hurt, ‘Lord, I forgive them’. This lifts my heart immediately, and keeps me right with the Lord. As long as we hold grudges, we grieve the Holy Spirit and don’t have Christ’s peace, joy and victory in our lives. This is the way of peace.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
This alerts us to the constant possibility of temptation. Actually it says, ‘Deliver us from the evil one’ – for we have an enemy, the devil, and it is vital to be constantly on guard. The devil, remember, even tempted our Lord.
Yielding to temptations brings sorrow and regret into our lives. Resisting them in God’s power makes us strong in God. God has promised that he will make a way for us to escape any temptation we ever face (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us of the armour he has given us – the belt of truth, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit (God’s Word) and prayer.
We can start by saying ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ daily – and really meaning it.
© Muriel Larson